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JACK RANDALL AND TOM KEENE IN “POPULAR COMICS”

A page from the October 1938 issue (#33) of POPULAR COMICS' adaptation of Jack Randall's "Gunsmoke Trail" ('38 Monogram).There were plenty of B-western heroes that never were adapted to the comic book page (Eddie Dean, Bob Baker, Rex Bell, Tom Tyler, Don Barry, 3 Mesquiteers, Range Busters, Russell Hayden, etc.) and a few that were adapted, but not under their own titles.

Dell’s POPULAR COMICS began in February ‘36 by reprinting “popular” newspaper comic strips of the time (“Dick Tracy”, “Terry and the Pirates”, “Gasoline Alley”, “Harold Teen”, “Don Winslow”, etc.).

With #28 (May ‘38) POPULAR started carrying comic adaptations of B-westerns concentrating on Monogram releases and Jack Randall in particular. POPULAR continued this trend for 16 issues, through #43 (Sept. ‘39), with nine of these 16 issues featuring six page Randall film adaptations. (Perhaps even 10 issues as I’ve never been able to locate a copy of #38 to affirm if there was a Randall story or not.) Other issues carried Tex Ritter, Tom Keene and Tim McCoy movie adaptations (even one Gene Autry—#28). The Randall film adaptations were: #30 (7/38) “Land of Fighting Men” (reasonable resemblance); #33 (10/38) “Gunsmoke Trail” (reasonable resemblance); #34 (11/38) “Man’s Country” (looked nothing like Jack); #36 (1/39) “Mexicali Kid” (looked nothing like Jack); #37
Jack Randall starred in "Gun Packer" for POPULAR COMICS #37 (Feb. '39). (2/39) “Gun Packer” (same artist as in #30, 33); #40 (6/39) “Trigger Smith” (no resemblance to Jack); #41 (7/39) “Riders of the Dawn” (no resemblance to Jack); #42 (8/39) “Stars Over Arizona” (no resemblance to Jack); #43 (9/39) “Across the Plains” (no resemblance to Jack). All artists are unknown.

With #44, ever-evolving contents of POPULAR COMICS changed and the B-western film adaptations disappeared. All the Jack Randall issues are hard to locate and not cheap when you do. In Fine any of these will cost you $140-$145, so concentrate for just a sample on #30, 33, 37, the issues in which the artwork looks like Jack.

Incidentally, as mentioned above, POPULAR COMICS used Tom Keene, but only once, in #29 (6/38) adapting “Painted Trail”. This is Keene’s only comic book appearance.

Tom Keene in "Painted Trail" ('38 Monogram), adapted for POPULAR COMICS #29 (June '38).

 

   
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